Uncovering the past or how I got my degree in political archeology by William Bowles

5 May 2005

U.S. Congressman John Conyers demands to know in a letter to George Bush why:

…the United States and Great Britain had secretly agreed to attack Iraq in the summer of 2002, well before the invasion and before you even sought Congressional authority to engage in military action. While various individuals have asserted this to be the case before, including Paul O’Neill, former U.S. Treasury Secretary, and Richard Clarke, a former National Security Council official, they have been previously dismissed by your Administration. However, when this story was divulged last weekend, Prime Minister Blair’s representative claimed the document contained “nothing new.”

Likewise, the full 13-page report on the Attorney General’s report on the legal justification for the invasion (consistently misnamed in the media as a war) never got published in its entirety in the media. Indeed, as the MediaLens story points out, the BBC never examined its content at all!

Likewise, the Kamel Bourgass travesty came and went as did the real story buried inside Bourgass’ secret trial for murder and the subsequent conspiracy trial, based as it was on evidence obtained through outsourced torture to far-flung lands. Not that we need to really hide torture in Uzbekistan, we can rely on the media to hide it from us no matter where it occurs.

Readers here and elsewhere on like-minded sites probably don’t need yet another reminder on the devious nature of the political class, yet the fact remains that the importance (or otherwise) of issues that affect every last one of us are decided by the delivery boys of capital, the media, every damn day.

The impact of an event relies not just on the weight and ‘spin’ given to it in the mass media, but perhaps even more importantly, the frequency of references to it and the use of a historical accumulation of lies that resembles a layer cake that sits on us, giving the phrase the weight of history an entirely new meaning.

One has to ask how, exactly, one event is regarded as important ‘news’ and another not? The obvious answer political bias plus corporate interests conspiring to invent a fictional world where there is no link between cause and effect, which is absolutely true as any number of media analysis reports reveal.

Take for example, the Blair regime’s attempt to scare the electorate into voting Labour by telling them that a Tory victory will spell the end of the National Health Service, but as a report in in the US media (where it obviously doesn’t count) points out, the UK spends only 40% as much on health care as do France, Germany and Canada anyway. That’s less than half as much as on comparably-sized populations.

Again, take the issue of ID cards, where the real issue is not the ID card itself but the really crucial element that the ‘debate’ over ID cards mask, and that’s the fact that by forcing us to pay for own enslavement is the best way to finance the construction of a horrendously expensive national police database on the entire populace that is the real objective of the ID card. By cranking up the anté and then appearing to compromise, the real objective gets achieved.

So by piling fiction on top of fiction, the real reasons gets hidden, a process that doesn’t actually require the convoluted thought processes of a Noam Chomsky to figure out.

Likewise, the ‘debate’ about the legality of the invasion of Iraq, masks the reality that ‘pre-emptive’ attack was outlawed by the planet decades ago. There really is nothing to debate, it’s a cut and dried issue.

The tactic is obvious, blatantly obvious, obvious that is, if one possesses a ‘critical mass’ of knowledge about history and connections between events; about interests; not something the average high school education supplies or even encourages.

One comes to the conclusion therefore, that in order to understand what’s really going on, one needs to be a ‘political archeologist’ digging down into an accretion of layers of lies, each layer of lies, compounding the lies of previous generations of lies that lay beneath.

How else does one explain the fact that over the past century political understanding has shrunk to the point whereby the political history of how we got to where we are today, has been ‘disappeared’?

How else does one explain that fifty-plus years ago, ‘ordinary’ people had a political awareness and understanding of events that only the chattering elite claim to possess today? It’s not merely that the corporate media blankets out all references to the real world, it’s based on the fact that our history has been hijacked over the decades. Causes ‘complexified’ to such a degree that ultimately even the scriptwriters trip over their own plot lines.

‘Real’ knowledge of history is now held almost exclusively by a tiny handful of ‘experts’ whether of the ruling political class, or even, god help us, by the so-called left.

Back in the 1840s, when the first theoretical investigations of capitalism were laid down, they occurred in the context of the ferment of debates and activities that created the foundations for the next one hundred years of political, economic and social change.

The debates were undertaken by people who, for the most part, didn’t even possess a primary education let alone a university one. When did you last see ordinary working people debating the important issues of our time without the ‘guidance’ of the political elite?

Cut-off from our past and smothered by layer upon layer of lies, it’s relatively easy to hide the real reasons that underpin events, for the minute one attempts to unpack an event, we find another one hidden inside. Political understanding has become a complex mystery story that requires the patience of Job, and who has the time for such an examination?

However, I sense that the biggest ‘soapie’ of them all, capitalism, has finally run out of plot.

Initially the audience suffers severe withdrawal symptoms; they stop watching and listening; the storyline has become so unbelievable that it stretches the credulity of even most the ardent addict.

The pundits call it ‘loss of legitimacy’, a lack of faith in ‘our established institutions’. What they don’t explain of course, is why? Like everything else that doesn’t fit the ‘plot’, badly thought out story lines get conveniently discarded, no need to explain, only the most eagled-eyed notice the lack of continuity, the disjuncture between the elements that constitute the storyline. The Iraq sub-plot is the most obvious piece of bad writing, with a ‘back-story’ that beggars belief, so much so that it has had to be re-written over and over again – but to no avail.

Unfortunately, unlike a TV Soapie, the real world continues on regardless, it hasn’t lost the plot, even if the team of writers have. And what do the so-called Left do? Incredulously, they demand that the old story be re-run! To paraphrase, they call for the ‘lesser of bad stories’ to be re-instituted!

Okay, this a metaphor, a parable for our times but like all parables, it contains an elemental truth. So whilst things do look grim right now, to my own amazement, I find myself being essentially optimistic. For the first time in several generations we may actually be able once more to write our own story and even (gasp!) fire the actors and take over the stage.

You have of course, every right to challenge this ‘foolish’ notion when everything appears to contradict my assertion. The ‘Left’ have never been smaller, our impact on events is, to put it mildly, miniscule, so by what right do I claim such extravagant ambitions?

Firstly, that in spite of generations of misinformation and falsification of the ‘archeological record’ that led us to where we are today, so glaring are the inconsistencies and contradictions, that no number of rewrites suffice to restore belief. This is no mean victory, and one largely achieved without our ‘help’.

Second, it requires that we engage with history as it really was, not as difficult a task as it at first appears. After all, the first step has already been taken for us, we merely need to replace ‘loss of legitimacy’ with our own definition. This means re-ordering our priorities. No more meaningless slogans that attempt to reduce our lives to sound bites but a genuine exploration of the lives of our ancestors who sacrificed so much and under much worse conditions yet managed to make sense of events which today would no doubt earn them double-firsts at any university you care to name.

Third, that we have, in the intervening decades allowed the political elite to purloin our history and ultimately make such a mess of it that now is the time, which is why the ‘election’ taking place today is of such importance, not because it matters who ‘wins’ because it doesn’t matter who wins but because it marks a historical fault line, when for the first time in living memory, we can vote according to principle and conscience, not according to someone else’s prescription whether of the ‘left’ or the right.

In turn, it explains why the ruling political class are pulling out all the stops because they, unlike my ‘left’ brethren, sense that the writing is on the wall for them and the class who employs them. For the first time, I feel free of the weight of a past that was never mine in the first place! So fuck ’em all folks, for as George Jackson said from his 8 x 12 cell before they took him out and shot him down in cold blood, he was free because being free first starts in your head, where it counts the most and where they can never reach you.

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